Friday, February 20, 2009

Who Can Explain This?

I should probably leave this alone - EW's 25 Greatest Active Film Directors. (The Obenson Report, for instance, provides a handy list version; Anne Thompson annotates, for some reason.)

I can't exactly say I'm offended by their choices. It's different. It's like - they are using words I recognize ("greatest" - "film" - "directors"), but they are using them in ways that are completely alien to me. It's not even just that they're just talking about Hollywood, or American, or whatever it is - because they have Almodovar on the list (and Del Toro, and Ang Lee, who split time...) So foreign languages are allowed... so - what? I can't imagine any definition of greatest, film, or director that involves Zach Snyder in any capacity. Judd Apatow? he's a director? Even "active" is a bit dubious when you look for James Cameron's last film... All of them ahead of Clint Eastwood! who at least made the list, which gives him the ups on David Lynch or Woody Allen or Spike Lee. I'm not going to pretend they're supposed to care about Godard or Wong Kar-wei or Manoel de Oliveira, aged 100 and going strong, or even Werner Herzog, who has became a fairly mainstream documentary director these days...

So I don't know. I can't do anything with it but marvel. I'd have to add that I don't think I could muster a very good version of the list for myself - because it's harder than it looks to find ways to combine "greatest" and "active" in a meaningful way - how do you balance lifetime achievement, recent achievement, etc? Not to mention, how do you balance influence, maybe success, with the quality of the films (over the career or now.) All very difficult, unless you pile on the qualifiers....

The list, in case anyone wonders:

1. Steven Spielberg
2. Peter Jackson
3. Martin Scorsese
4. Christopher Nolan
5. Steven Soderbergh
6. Ridley Scott
7. Quentin Tarantino
8. Michael Mann
9. James Cameron
10. Joel and Ethan Coen
11. Guillermo del Toro
12. David Fincher
13. Tim Burton
14. Judd Apatow
15. Sam Raimi
16. Zack Snyder
17. Darren Aronofsky
18. Danny Boyle
19. Clint Eastwood
20. Ron Howard
21. Ang Lee
22. Paul Thomas Anderson
23. Paul Greengrass
24. Pedro Almodóvar
25. Jon Favreau

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